This page is to help you find your profile and to help you update your profile by creating both Firefox and Windows System Shortcuts for Quick Launch.  Locating your profile is needed to fix most problems with Firefox, and to backup / modify / restore your personal settings including bookmarks, passwords, appearance and usage customizations should problems occur or you wish to transfer usage to another computer.

Profile: Finding and Assigning Shortcuts

Home page:
[View without Frames]
The information here was previously contained on my firefox.htm page.

Hidden Files in Windows (#hiddenfiles) !important

Hidden Files: You probably won’t get far with these directions or in maintaining a Windows systems unless you unhide hidden files(directions for Windows 2000 and above),
      My Computer, Tools(or View), Folder Options, View
and then make sure “show all files” is checked, and uncheck both “Hide file extensions for known file types” and “Hide protected operating system files”. [picture]

Read-only attribute on Profile files can play havoc (#readonly) !important

Make sure that you do not have read only file in your Firefox profile.  The read-only attribute may have been set by restoring files from a CD or file protected media, and can cause numerous problems within your Firefox profile.  Windows allows you to remove read-only attributes at the directory level for all subordinate folders and files.

  Files Restored from a CD backup reported as Read-Only (#readonlyattribute)

Having Read Only Files in your profile folder can cause a lot of problems, including the inability to update bookmarks, cookies, prefs.js and other files. Backing up files to removable media may turn on read-only file attributes by many backup methods, restoring from such media will then result in read-only attributes for the restored files.

Not all backups to a CD will turn on the Read Only attribute bit, but those that do will cause a problem when you try to update those files once back on your hard drive. 

The XCOPY command will not normally turn on read-only attributes, but copying and moving files with drag and drop involving removable media usually will turn on read-only file attributes.

Using XCOPY in the WinNT DOS Command Window, I personally to not have a problem with files restored from a CD backup.  Those on Windows XP also should be unaffected as it apparently (see article above) will not turn on the Read Only bit. 

If you are interested in finding out if you have read-only files in your profile.

Same thing without using the Command Window:
To turn off the Read-only protect attribute for all files in a folder and it's subdirectories and it's subdirectories, you can right-click on a folder and select properties, then first check Read-only files, press Apply button, Apply changes to this folder, subfolders, and files; then redo by unchecking Read-only files, press Apply button, Apply changes to this folder, subfolders, and files; the result will be all files in the profile folders will all have the read-only attribute turned off.

For Firefox Suggest selecting at least the folder containing the profile folder ('Profiles' folder), then removing read-only attributes for all profile folders at once.  I personally remove all read-only atrributes on my system.

Additional references:  Read-only (MozillaZine), and problem with Read-Only files.

For those that have a problem here are some alternative methods to remove the read-only attribute on your restored files.

Additional information of Backup and Recovery can be found among my Excel pages.

Another method of clearing read-only attributes might be Clear Read-Only 1.1 Download, clears Read-Only file attribute. (not used but found on a search)

Creating keyword shortcuts for your profile and chrome directories (#profile) !important

It is the ability to get to your profile quickly and easily that is important I normally use the "Open Profile Folder" extension to find the profile for the Firefox that I am in and then leave the Windows File Explorer up and take Firefox down before making changes to profile files.  Needless to say it is best to have it already installed, because if you have problems such as with localstore.rdf you may not be able to install any extension

Directions to find your profile folder (description of contents) and create keyword shortcuts to your profile (profile:) and Chrome (chrome:) directories. 

The more or less official directions to to locate your profile directory are at Firefox Help: Editing Configuration Files, but the following directions should be much faster for those on Windows.

Locate your Profile directory (#locateprofile)

Windows:  You can locate your profile folder with the use of %APPDATA% by pasting %APPDATA%/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles into the address bar of "My Computer" in Windows (or into the Run of Start), if you used the default install folders suggested for Firefox, adapted from Where is my profile folder a topic in Mozillazine KB article Profile folder - MozillaZine Knowledge Base (suggested keyword profilefolder:)
Using an Extension to find or bring up your Profile directory (#ext)

A more straight forward method to find your profile is to have installed the Launchy extension.  In order to add a launchy.xml you had to know where your profile is and the extension helps you to find your chrome directory in your currently used profile, you can use the options in Tools, addons for Launchy, and choose the "launchy.xml" tab to see where the chrome directory is, simply click on the file path and use Copy (ctrl+C) to obtain the pathname . 

Additional extension alternatives:  Open Profile Folder in Tools menu and same option within Tools, Nightly Tester Tools.

Open Profile Folder extension, by Kyo, opens your current profile folder in Windows File Manager [Tools menu], Nightly Tester Tools which has "Open Profile Folder" listed under itself in Tools menu.

Nightly Tester tools has a bad feature in it that you can accidentally use to reset your extensions by changing the high version number to current version; thereby losing the all important red exclamation point indicator in your extensions list.

The disadvantange of any extension is for this is that you have to know about the extension, and will not work in Safe Mode, or with a brand new profile.  As a result tens of thousands of hours are wasted because folks don't want you to easily find your profile.  As absurd as it sounds an alternative might be to use bookmarks in another browser and drag items to Firefox as needed.

Locate your Profile directory (#nonsense)

Another method described in Profile folder - MozillaZine Knowledge Base -- Other profiles, would have you paste a long string into the JavaScript Error Console (Ctrl+Shift+J)   [see Picture]

From the Mozilla application's menu bar, choose "Tools -> Error Console" or "Tools -> JavaScript Console" (or "Tools -> Web Development -> JavaScript Console"). Copy the following code. It is one very long line ending in path—make sure that you get all of it:

Components.classes[";1"].getService( Components.interfaces.nsIProperties).get("ProfD", Components.interfaces.nsIFile).path

Using an Extension as described earlier to open your current Firefox profile with the Windows File Manager from the Firefox Tools menu, alleviates or eliminates the need for the "profile:", and "chrome:" keyword shortcuts that follow, which although are bookmarks must be customized to the actual profile name.

Create "profile:" keyword shortcut

Create a profile: keyword shortcut for your default profile directory (probably has default within the directory name) and contains your working bookmarks (bookmarks.html) which is saved at the end of your session.

Create "bookmarks:" keyword shortcut

Create a bookmarks: keyword shortcut for the bookmarks.html file in your profile directory so you can view the HTML file that is saved at the end of your session, if you made changes.

Create "chrome:" keyword shortcut

Create a chrome: keyword shortcut for the chrome directory which is within your profile. 
The old way to find profile folder was to find the cache folder with about:cache which used to be in the profile unless the user moved it.  As of Firefox 1.5 for new installations the cache is created in another folder.  Directions to relocate cache folder via browser.cache.disk.parent_directory string value. 

If JavaScript is enabled, will attempt to find your profile: (doesn't work)

Or the following should work, copy the following:  (all one line)
Components.classes[";1"].getService( Components.interfaces.nsIProperties).get("ProfD", Components.interfaces.nsIFile).path
then bring up the JavaScript Console (Tools, Error Console) and paste the above into the command area and the press Evaluate.

more/less information

The information here on creating Firefox keyword shortcuts for profile: and chrome: as well as a Windows Launch Pad short cut for the profile was already covered above but this may help put things into perspective.

One way to find the profile directory regardless of system and actual location is described in Mozillazine article on "Profile Folder" (Other Profiles) using Tools (menu), Web Developer, Tools, JavaScript Console (Error Console), then paste the following long string into the address and press Evaluate.

Components.classes[";1"].getService( Components.interfaces.nsIProperties).get("ProfD", Components.interfaces.nsIFile).path

The userid in the following example is Administrator.  A unique string of characters for your profiles was generated when Firefox was installed and is indicated below as NOP.  The name of your first profile is Default.

Locate your profile in which you will find prefs.js and bookmarks.html – you would normally not edit either of those files.  If you are the administrator the link portion below will get you almost there; otherwise, substitute your userid.    

   file:///c:/Documents and Settings/Administrator/Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/NOP.Default/prefs.js

Later on you will probably have or create files such as:

  file:///c:/Documents and Settings/Administrator/Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/NOP.Default/user.js
  file:///c:/Documents and Settings/Administrator/Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/NOP.Default/chrome/userChrome.css
  file:///c:/Documents and Settings/Administrator/Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/NOP.Default/chrome/userContent.css

Still can't find the chrome file, perhaps a different or previous system:  try search on prefs.js
* On Windows 9.x (95, 98, or ME), go to C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\\Firefox\Profiles\yourProfileName\someRandomCharacters.slt\.
* On Windows 2000/XP, go to C:\Documents and Settings\yourUserName\\Firefox\Profiles\yourProfileName\someRandomCharacters.slt\

Once you have found your profile, would suggest you set up a Firefox keyword bookmark as profile: and one for chrome: (see keyword shortcuts) as well as a windows shortcut for your profile within Quick Launch (see Set up a Desktop Shortcut for use within Quick Launch.
For Firefox as
  file:///c:/Documents and Settings/Administrator/Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/NOP.Default/
and a Windows System shortcut for use in the Launch pad as
  c:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\NOP.Default/

Multiple Profile Tips   (#multiprofiletips)


Configuration Files in your Profile and Chrome directories (#config)

Please read Firefox Help: Editing Configuration Files (archived) -- replaced by Editing configuration files (in sandbox) so you can read about and create userChrome.css, userContent.css, in the chrome directory of your profile, and about user.js and prefs.js in your profile.

As you become more aware of files in your profile you might be interested in some of mine which can be found as text files in the code directory on my site.

Create a Windows shortcut as well for your profile directory (#quicklaunch)

This topic is fully covered on “QuickLaunch additions for Firefox”.

Having created Firefox shortcuts for profile and chrome directories, it would also be a good idea to create a system shortcut that you can install on your Windows Quick Launch.

In your Windows File Explorer use File, New, Short -- type or paste in the complete path for your Firefox profile.  Then place the created shortcut in your Quick Launch.  Then you have two shortcuts you can use one in Firefox ("profile:) and one in File Explorer via the Quick Launch.

Some specific examples of Quick Launch shortcuts (posted 2007-01-07)  Continue on to the Quick Launch page.

Opening multiple profiles, Multiple Versions at the same time (#multiple)

You can open a new window in Firefox and see two windows on the taskbar, and you can start another window from the WinStart Run, all are using the same instance of Firefox as seen in the Task Manager.  But it is also possible to start different instances of Firefox (same version) as seen in the Task Manager using different profiles, but to actually get another instance of Firefox you must use the parameter -NO-REMOTE on your command line entry.  [multiple personalities in Firefox].  Use of -no-remote or MOZ_NO_REMOTE also allows you to test different versions of Firefox at the same time.  Enclose profile name in double-quotes, and the profile name is case-sensitive (Even on Windows)
firefox.exeStart Firefox normally (last profile)
firefox -pStart Firefox choice of profiles, if Firefox not already running
firefox -p profilenameStart Firefox with a specific profile
firefox -no-remoteStart another instance of Firefox (not much point to this one)
firefox -p default -no-remoteStart another instance of Firefox, use the default profile
firefox -p TMixPcrapola -no-remoteStart another instance with a specific profile

Firefox Profile Features Needed (#needed)

Still needed:  Automatic means within Firefox itself to produce Being able to get the above information instantly without a user having to set things up would be a great help, and for an application like Firefox Portable a virtual necessity, as you will not know what drive letter will be assigned to your USB thumb drive ahead of time in a truly portable application.  See my notes for Firefox Portable for some help with drive letter assignment of portable device.  Suggest installing the Launchy extension to help you quickly find your profile on your desktop.

Testing for bad extensions (#testing)

Temporary topic until I find a suitable link or create a separate topic:

If you are having a problem with extensions, always suspect the last change(s) you made whether it be an extension, or a configuration change, you can find the last entension by finding the install.log in the folder that Firefox is started from.

Also check the Problematic extensions KB article.

Rather than uninstalling extensions you can disable extensions, I would start by disabling the 3-5 most likely and retest.  If not the problem then disable half of the remaining ones, if still not the problem disable half of the remaining ones.  You can narrow things down a lot faster with a binary approach than testing each extension individually.

Testing in Safe Mode, disconnects/disables extensions but not your configurations.

Testing with a new profile eliminates both your previous extensions, and previous configuration changes.

You would probably want to create another profile rather than uninstalling all extensions.  You could copy your current profile and to a new profile and play with that.

To help you with restarting providing better reliability and faster turnaround after making changes to addons.
  QuickRestart by Juan C. Avila
you can get to the author's home page through the link on his name at addons.

Additional profile related information

A user profile includes personal customizations:  bookmarks, options, toolbar layouts, passwords, cookies, history, extensions.  The chrome directory within the profile includes customizations relating to appearance.  Suggest you move the cache out of the profile to reduce size of your profile backup, but first create a keyword shortcut and other shortcuts to your profile.

New Profile changes based on Extensions (#new)

If you have these extensions you might want to make some profile changes on your new profile.

Mozillazine Profile Articles (#kb)

note:  Items below are created from the Tabs in view via Copy All Urls extension and have purposely included rel="nofollow" within their link anchors.  They could all be opened with the Linky extension into separate tabs from the links below.

Microsoft KB (#mskb)

Fixes - Blogs (#fixes)